New UArizona Nursing Sexually Transmitted Infections Course Primes Students to be Change Leaders in the Fight Against STI’s

Feb. 10, 2023

In fall 2023, the University of Arizona College of Nursing will launch a brand-new fully online course for the emerging adult population, ages 18-25. Designed to teach students about common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), NURS 151, Perspectives on Sexually Transmitted Infections, will prime learners to become peer resources on fact-based and science-based sexual health education.

Assistant Clinical Professor Robin J Poedel, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, who designed and wrote the course based on her longstanding clinical passion for STIs, says that the impetus for NURS 151 is rooted in the lack of education that the mainstream public has about the behaviors of STIs. And with numbers consistently rising every year for such infections as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, it’s more important than ever to educate young people about the dangers posed by these infections. “This course is a natural fit for the undergraduate population,” Dr. Poedel says. “Coincidentally, or not coincidentally, this population has the highest number of incidence and prevalence when it comes to STIs.”

“I want students to walk away from this course empowered with knowledge that they can not only commandeer their own body regarding sexual health, but they can then share this information as truth with their peers," ~ Robin J Poedel, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

Dr. Poedel has designed NURS 151, which will be available as a campus-wide elective, to be accessible to students with varying science backgrounds. “I want to give my class the bare bones, the foundational information,” she says. “We’re going to make it understandable. We’re not going to talk over anybody’s head with all the scientific jargon.”

The course covers the basics such as the anatomy and physiology of the male and female reproductive tracts, an introduction to STIs and their risk factors, diagnosis, and epidemiology of STIs, an explanation of the prevention and treatment strategies used to manage STIs locally and globally, and deep dives into the most common – and destructive -- STIs.

Robin J Poedel, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

“We make it easy to understand,” Dr. Poedel says. “We discuss what the terms mean, what the incidences mean, and what the prevalence is, so that when students look at statistics, they can understand the ramifications. By doing so, they’ll have a better idea of what they’re working with and what the risk factors are, and they get to understand why these organisms are so stealth, why they fly under radar repeatedly.”

One of Dr. Poedel’s ultimate goals for NURS 151 is to create cohorts of knowledgeable peer facilitators. “They’ll have scientific knowledge, presented to them in an easy-to-digest format, so that they can then explain things to their friends in a way that they were explained in my course,” she says.  “I want them to walk away from this course empowered with knowledge that they can not only commandeer their own body regarding sexual health, but they can then share this information as truth with their peers.”

Below are the top nine takeaways students will get from NURS 151:

  1. Describe the characteristics of the most common reproductive tract infections, STIs and HIV
  2. Compare and contrast bacteria, viruses, and other causative organisms
  3. Discuss the epidemiology of STIs/HIV and associated statistics
  4. Explain prevention and treatment strategies used to manage STIs/HIV locally and globally
  5. Understand the role of protective measures (ex. condoms) in the prevention of STI transmission
  6. Discuss the relationship between birth control and STI transmission
  7. Describe awareness of the relationship between STIs and sex trade (ex. sex for drugs), sex work, and sex trafficking
  8. Understand HIV/AIDS and not only how to prevent acquisition, but how to live life Positively if already HIV+
  9. Live every day as a peer facilitator and share your science-based knowledge with your peers in an effort to decrease the incidence and prevalence of STIs.